Loggerhead Shrikes breakfast
Loggerhead Shrikes are well known for their hunting skills, chasing down lizards, various insects, small rodents and even an occasional snake. It is not uncommon to find results of their skills, in the form of a lizard or other trophy, left on a cactus thorn or barbwire, there for a future meal. A couple of weeks ago, I was in one of my favorite arroyos, when one of these beautiful birds landed right above my head. It showed little concern about my presence, preening and giving out an occasional call to its mate. At one point, it became quite excited, chirping and calling, when, all of the sudden a second shrike flew in and joined the first bird. It landed in a location that did not allow me to see it with out making a large change of location, which I was sure would disturb them both. All of the sudden, there was a quick hand off of an early morning breakfast. I missed the exchange, but was able to get the results a few seconds later. The first bird now had a Stick-bug in its bill. As camouflaged as these insects are, I have never seen one down here in this dry desert terrain. There was little hesitation on the Shrikes part, quickly tearing the bug into manageable pieces, which it promptly ate. I can not imagine that there is a whole lot of nutritional value in this little insect.
I suppose it is possible that this is an offspring from last year, still getting a little help with food, but the bird had its adult plumage. I am pretty sure that this was just one mate bringing the other a little “breakfast In Bed” so to speak.
For those of you that are curious, these images were taken with a Nikon D750, 200-500mm lens, set at 480mm. Due to this being at very first light, on a gloomy, cloudy day, I was using an ISO of 1600, at 2ooth of a second. In order to get enough depth of field, I set the F-stop at F13. I also had to use a flash, in order to get enough light, which is something I usually avoid at all costs.
Here is a bit of creative cropping. You can see the reflection of the flash in its eye.